Better Place waited until its fleet of Renault Fluence plug-in vehicles was just about officially, commercially operational in Israel before letting customers know that the cost to drive the vehicles will be less than expected. Better Place's official launch, which happened this past weekend, means that the cars are now available to both fleets and private individuals. Better Place is also offering consumers a new lower-price plan that is "a simpler and better deal," writes Haaretz, because the previous rate was causing problems for the company to break into the market.
Better Place is using traditional media advertisements to reach out to people – with the slogan, "It's not for everybody" – but it's the simpler plan that is getting the positive reviews. Remember, aside from battery swaps, Better Place's idea is to make EV driving more affordable by "selling miles" (like cell phone minutes). Previously, the lowest-cost plan was for 20,000 kilometers (12,427 miles) per year, and you needed to sign up for four years. The new cheapest plans are month-to-month leases (of a sort) that start at just 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) a month. Even better, those are "roll-over" miles, so you can drive more next month if you don't do as many this month. The cost is 65 agorot per kilometer (around 16 cents per km). Drivers who expect to spend more time in their cars can pay just 55 agorot per kilometer (about 14 cents) but they need to pay some money up front (either enough for 40,000 kilometers over three years or 50,000 kilometers over four years).
Better Place's first customer deliveries happened in January after years of testing and delays, which Better Place blamed mostly on trouble with building permits. BP's marketing and strategy manager, Ori Lahav, told the Jerusalem Post, that "Israeli bureaucracy really slowed us down." Currently, there are 250 cars and 10 battery stations in operation in Israel, and many more should be online soon. We have an in-depth look at Better Place's plans here.